Photo of woman eating a cupcakeThe American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of added sugars — any sweetener that does not occur naturally in food — to no more than 5 percent of overall calories (about 100 calories daily for women and 150 calories for men). But it’s estimated that Americans take in on average more than 15 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. And a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that this high intake may be affecting more than our waistlines.  

Less added sugar equals better cholesterol levels
The study examined the food intake and cholesterol levels of more than 6,000 men and women older than 18. Researchers found that men and women whose added sugar intake was between 10 and 17.5 percent of total calories were 50 percent more likely to have lower levels of the “good” cholesterol, HDL, than those who limited sugars to recommended levels. Rates for high triglyceride levels were significant as well.

The results were true after controlling for factors that may influence cholesterol, such as body mass index, physical activity and alcohol intake. In addition, the more added sugar that was consumed, the worse the cholesterol numbers. Unhealthy cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

Take steps to reduce sugar
Scaling back on added sugars in your diet may be easier than you think. Some experts estimate that as much as half of Americans’ intake of added sugar comes from soft drinks. One regular soft drink accounts for 130 calories (or 8 teaspoons) of added sugar.

Added sugars can come in many forms, including high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, brown sugar, honey and more. These can be found in many foods and drinks. To learn how to identify these sugars in your diet and reduce your intake, visit*. Search for the term “added sugars.”

From BCBS of MI

Last reviewed: July 2010

Please Leave a Comment

First time commenters will have their comment moderated. Sorry.